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Polterheist PDF Print E-mail
Written by Phil Plait   
Thursday, 18 December 2008 00:00
What's dumber? Robbing a house, or getting caught because a ghost wouldn't let you leave?

I'm guessing it's that second part. Even dumber, when the family returned to their home, they found the would-be robber suffering dehydration (more on that on The Star Online). Or maybe he was already on the brink of it when he robbed the house, which is why he thought it was haunted. Beats me.

Of course, we hear ghost stories all the time. As I (and lots of others, of course) have long been saying, there is no credible evidence of ghosts. None. Zip. Like with UFOs, if you want to convince me of this, I want real evidence. Not a blurry photo, or video of a spider crawling on a surveillance camera. Evidence.
Encouraging, But... PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 00:00

When the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issues a "Class 1 recall" of a device, service, or medication being offered the public, that's serious. It means that they believe the item has a reasonable probability that it will cause "adverse health consequences or death."

Now, I don't think it took concentrated investigative powers of perception for the Administration to determine that anything called a "Vibrational Integrated Bio-photonic Energizer" - made by manufacturer VIBE Technologies of Greeley, Colorado, or the "HLX8" device made by Nebion of Los Angeles, California, might not perform as advertised. The VIBE device is sold to treat cancer, infections, and depression, while the HLX8 claims to treat: cancer - breast, bone, lung, and pancreatic, carpel tunnel syndrome, migraine, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, shingles, sports injuries, sprains, and ruptured discs - an obviously wider range of ailments. Recalls were issued on both company's products.

Happy Day! PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Tuesday, 16 December 2008 00:00

prophetFortunately, Utah "Prophet" Leland Freeborn has predicted that President-elect Obama will be prevented from taking his seat in the Oval Office due to a disaster. I say "fortunately," because this is as dependable as one of Sylvia Browne's predictions, though I see that she's now charging her followers a fee to know how wrong she is.  Mr. Freeborn is known as the "Parowan Prophet," and he's read 2 Peter 2:13 - that's a book in the Bible - that warns the naïve, apparently, about "riots."  I fail to see where riots in response to Obama's election come in, but Leland seems to. These riots, according to him, will encourage the remnants of the "old, hard-line Soviet guard" to fire nukes on the USA, taking out about a hundred million of us, which has to get our attention. The verse reads, in the King James version:

[These natural brute beasts] shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.

Umm, okay, but no cigar. Maybe the "New Revised Standard Version" of this book makes more sense?

A Very Good XMas Gift PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   
Monday, 15 December 2008 00:00
frontcoverA book by the late Bob Schadewald, "Worlds of Their Own," deals with - as the jacket says:

A brief history of misguided ideas: creationism, flat-Earthism, energy scams, and the Velikovsky affair.

To that, I'll add: perpetual motion, general pseudoscience, and end-of-the-world nonsense, all handled in depth and with great perception. Bob was a prolific technical writer, and the best of these are very knowledgeable about real science. He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Center for Science Education, including two years as its president.

WOO IN REVIEW: Lance Burton: Master Magician PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alison Smith   
Sunday, 14 December 2008 21:53

Woo in Review: LANCE BURTON: MASTER MAGICIAN (Monte Carlo)

One of the funnest things an individual in Las Vegas can do with their spare time if they aren't using it to toss money directly down the metaphorical toilet is see a magic show. Perspectives on magic shows vary – some people might view them as glorified lounge acts; a form of entertainment on par with mime or synchronized swimming. I apologize to all mimes and synchronized swimmers out there. I'm sure your work has value too. Or something.
But those of us who are involved in skepticism know very well how important magic is, and I don't mean just because magicians from Houdini to Penn & Teller are so involved in critical thinking. I don't just mean because so many, like Banachek or Jamy Ian Swiss or the ever-vigilant James Randi, promote science. Science is a beautiful thing, truly, and anyone looking at the world on either a grand or minuscule scale can feel the power behind things like learning what an atom is, or the composition of a distant planet.

This is the sense of awe we get from knowledge. There is another sense of awe that comes from taking everything we know about the world and turning it on its head. There is one kind of person who can alter what we think we know so quickly that their title has become synonymous with the inexplicable. They are called Magicians.

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